Few things in life freaks a man out more than a physically peculiar specimen of his gender group that succeeds in surrounding himself with attractive examples of the opposite sex.
There simply had to be a reason why a short bald guy with a preference for Hawaiian shirts would manage to end up with a model. Size is usually one of the first things that gets mulled over and by that I means the dimensions of his wallet of course. But the laws of attraction are more intricate than a few centimetres … errr …. I mean zeros in a bank account. There is something that will outlast any stock market collapse and it is called a mojo.
For those unfamiliar with the word, the dictionary describes it as a magic charm, talisman, or spell. The mojo phenomenon was something I repeatedly mulled over while spending a week in Mahindra’s Pik Up S11, the Indian manufacturer’s first bakkie to feature an automatic gearbox.
To be honest, the Pik Up’s aesthetics are in stark contrast to the much more physically appeasing appearances it’s contemporaries are clad in. Standing next to the line of the muscular usual suspects that rule the South Africans bakkie landscape, I can’t help but to think of the Pik Up as the bespectacled fella in the Hawaiian shirt.
Apart from a few styling upgrades up front, its body shape has largely remained unchanged in the almost two decades since the bakkie and its SUV sibling, the Scorpio, saw the light of day. It looks very boxy and clunky and the peculiar upright cabin and windscreen almost give you the impression of it being a bit top heavy.
However, like Road Test Editor Mark Jones noted after the S11’s market launch in January, it does have a kind of indestructible utilitarian look about it. And being so far left field to the popular bakkie offering is exactly what gives the Mahindra its mojo. And if it could talk, I’m pretty sure it blink an eye and wear a grin in the mould of Austin Powers before muttering: ”Shall we … hit the road now … or shall we … hit the road later … baby?” Only in an Indian accent of course.
Where the local market leaders have mostly become so shiny that we sometimes scoff at the idea of their neatly lined loadboxes getting dirty, the Mahindra’s deep loadbox and old school humble trims begs for a tonne of top soil or two cows to make their way across the gravel. Or to be more in line with typical local trends, two to three tonnes at a time.
The same theme continues inside. The cabin is simplistic and lined with hard plastics, but it quite comfortable in its own unique way. In fact Mahindra has ramped-up on the spec front to stay as relevant as they possibly can in a very competitive segment.
Front seat centre armrests are a very welcome feature seeing that the driver’s left arm won’t have to much to do in an automatic with a multi-function steering wheel adding to the comfort. The instrument cluster is as basic as they get, but the seven-inch infotainment touchscreen system is quite modern in design and easy to operate. A reserve camera, navigation, USB port and Bluetooth connectivity completes the package.
Other niceties include climate control and cruise control is also standard which controls double acts as the speed controller with the Hill Descent Control system engaged. On the safety front the S11 is equipped with two front airbags and features traction control.
The height at which you view the road from through the upright windscreen down over the front end of the bonnet offers a completely different driving experience to what you get used to in other bakkies. But the nice view does not make squeezing into tight spaces any better as the Pik Up’s turning circle is about a metre bigger than those of its rivals. And speaking of steering, it’s does not feel very responsive at all.
The S11 is powered by Mahindra’s mHawk 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine which delivers 103kW/320Nm and is sent to all four wheels via the brand new automatic gearbox. The power on offer is surprisingly responsive, while the fuel consumption was good too.
The S11 recorded a figure of 11l/100km in everyday traffic, with the number falling to below 8l/100km on a few highway trips. And while we did not go bundu bashing with the test unit, Mark did discover during the national launch drive that the 4×4 systems can hold their own.
In terms of price, you can shop around all you want, but you simply won’t beat S11’s value at a price of R414 999. With the tough economic times we found ourselves in, expect to see a lot more of these on our roads. Like Austin Powers, who himself is anything but perfect, the S11’s unhindering mojo also compensates for any shortfalls. It’s just so damn hard not to like it.
If you are willing to live with the constant abuse from your Hilux or Ranger-driving mates, this is the perfect left field choice for the bakkie community.
For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.
BACK TO CITIZEN
BACK TO PREMIUM
The Citizen. All rights